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‘Osinbajo is right’… Wole Soyinka Centre admits award deferment was VP’s decision

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THE Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) has admitted as misleading its explanation on why it postponed an award scheduled to be given to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

In a statement released on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Director Motunrayo Alaka, the centre said the press release from the Vice President’s office, which was made public hours after its announcement on Monday, was more accurate.

“WSCIJ accepts the statement from the Vice President’s office as the true position on its intended award to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo,” the statement confirmed.

“An in-house communication gap caused the difference in the use of language and we accept responsibility for this.”

It added that it stands by its intention to confer on Osinbajo the Integrity Speciality of its Anti-Corruption Defender Award.

“The board, however, shares his decision to excuse himself this year based on recent happenings.”

Following protests on social media, including from various journalists, the WSCIJ had said in a statement, which appears to have been pulled down, that the award’s postponement “was decided on to align with protests against the repression of freedom of speech in recent times especially the incident between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Omoleye Sowore, Publisher of Sahara Reporters”.

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It added that “the Vice President himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point”, but did not state clearly that the decision was in fact that of the Vice President.

In his reaction, Osinbajo explained that, for two reasons, he had rather declined to be awarded in a letter sent to the WSCIJ on Sunday.

“First is that I am currently in Abu Dhabi for an international meeting under the auspices of the government of the UAE where I am the keynote speaker,” he said.

“Second, in view of the developments on Friday in the Sowore case, I think it would be insensitive and inappropriate to attend the ceremony.”

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'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via aadebajo@icirnigeria.org or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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